Question for Meg:
This question comes from Valarie, who describes her stress this way, “My problem with stress is that I’m a chronic worrier, extremely busy, and tired. I’m a middle-aged mom with one teenage child still in the home. It’s just so difficult to get motivated when I’m so tired from running all the time. It would be nice if there were some way to seemingly slow down time.”
First, I want to congratulate you, Valarie, for recognizing that worrying doesn’t help anything. Worry definitely does more harm than good, and one of the biggest problems with it, is confusing repetitive thinking about what you imagine might happen, with something that will actually solve the problem.
Every single time you imagine what will happen, your brain delivers a dose of the same stress hormones it produces when this thing you’re imaging is actually happening. Even though you’re only imaging it, the hit your body takes is very real, while the problem is left unresolved. Not only is this exhausting, and debilitating, it’s a total waste of your time and energy.
Legitimacy of your concerns is not the issue here, but chronically worrying about these concerns actually diminishes your chances of finding real and sustainable solutions.
Finding real solutions to problems requires starting wherever you are. So the first order of business is to break the worry cycle. You can do this by developing a new habit of interrupting every single worry-based thought by taking a deep breath and releasing tension on the exhale.
Now, you might have to do this 100 times a day, at first, but eventually your destructive worry habit will be replaced by a new habit of breathing, relaxing, and returning your awareness to the present moment, which is the place where effective solutions to your problems can be found. In the present moment you’ll be in a position to do something constructive with all the time and energy you’ll get back by refusing to invest in worry.
So next time you catch yourself worrying, respond by taking a deep breath to relax your body instead. It won’t turn you into Gandhi overnight, but it will definitely help you break the habit of chronic worrying that’s wearing you out.
Read my Blog Post Worried About Your Chronic Worrying?
Take good care : )